• Published 10th May 2016
  • 1,945 Views, 422 Comments

The Titan's Orb: Rising Storm - Old Man Dusters



While Callum and the Mane Six continue their quest to find the shards of the Titan's Orb, their path ahead grows only more deadly as they are now stalked by a relentless shadow that will stop at nothing until they are vanquished...

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Chapter Twenty-One: Break My Mind

“NO! NO! PLEASE! GET OFF ME! STOP!” I screamed.

“Callum! Callum it’s me!”

I shook myself wildly, kicking out with blind terror, until I eventually opened my eyes and found myself in the woods, with a pair of blue hooves holding me tightly; I tilted my head and was able to make eye contact.

“It’s me Callum, it’s Dashie.” She whispered.

My senses slowly came back to me and my eyes widened, and my lip began to tremble as everything came back to me. I opened my mouth to say her name, only to burst into tears and latch onto her, burying my face into her neck.

“Oh Callum…” She sighed.

She rocked me side to side as I wept loudly, the torment I’d experienced was overwhelming, is that truly what it felt like to be corrupted by the Fel? Is this what Twilight had been experiencing all this time?

“What happened Callum?”

I tried to calm myself down as much as possible and sat up beside her, looking down at my hand to find the orb shard still in my grasp.

“I saw… I saw…” I mumbled, barely able to speak.

Dashie nuzzled my shoulder for assurance and comfort, and I took a deep breath.

“I saw a vision… Of the future… Of a broken future…”

I could barely get the words out, I had no strength, my body was still in shock from the Fel’s corruption, even though it was only a vision, my body had still felt it as though it were real. I guessed it was similar to sleep-paralysis, where you wake from a nightmare and feel like you’re still in the nightmare, and can’t move at all because your brain is so confused.

“What future?” Dash queried, still puzzled.

“I was in Ponyville, everything was on fire. Nah’Lek was there, he corrupted the vision and used the Fel on me, he’s inside my head Dash, he moved from Twilight’s brain into mine!”

Rainbow Dash jumped up and started to back away, instantly afraid, I tried to stand and her wings flexed, prepared to flee; she was afraid of me.

“Dash, I’m not infected, I promise.”

“But you just said-”

“I’m not, infected. He’s been trying to corrupt me, but I’m immune to the Fel, my depression works as some sort of barrier. Nah’Lek was only able to use it on me inside the vision, by using a large quantity of it. He can’t poison me for real, not without being here in person.” I explained.

“Do you promise?”

I lifted up my shirt and pointed to the large scar across my chest, the one Ingeo had left me. It coincidentally went directly over where my heart was.

“Cross my heart.”

She smirked, and folded her wings and came back to me, giving me a tight hug.

“I’m sorry, it’s just… I’ve already lost one friend to that monster…”

“Twilight’s back Dashie, we’ve cured her. I know it will take you some time to forgive her, but please understand that she’s come back. I understand now more than ever what she went through, and how the Fel changed her, it really wasn’t her fault.” I told her.

She pulled away and looked down, frowning.

“I… I’ll try…”

I cupped her cheek with my hand, and smiled.

“That’s all I ask of you.”

Dash smiled back, before looking at the orb shard in my hand and prodding it with a hoof; the glow from within had dulled slightly, as if it had used up a lot of energy to take me to the vision.

“Touching the shard took you to that vision, right?” She asked.

I nodded, and allowed her to continue.

“Well, I think the orb wanted you to see that vision, there must have been a reason for you to be there before Nah’Lek came along. Do you remember anything that stood out?”

Closing my eyes, I cast my mind back. I highly doubted meeting Derpy or any of that mattered, the most important thing was when Celestia showed up with Twilight. If there was anything important about the vision, it must have been my conversation with Celestia. Surely the whole point of the vision was to reinforce the fact I didn’t belong in Equestria. Or perhaps it had something to do with the orcs, when Celestia vanished and I met with Luna, maybe I was taken there to tell the princess about the Horde?

“Break the cycle… Break the cycle…” I muttered.

“What’s that?” Dash asked.

“He told me to break the cycle.”

“Who did?”

“I did, I met myself from the future at the end of the vision. After the Fel had consumed me, he came along and finished me off, but not before telling me I had to break the cycle.” I explained.

“That’s odd, what do you think it meant?” Dashie hummed.

I shook my head with confusion.

“I haven’t the foggiest idea.”



My attention was drawn away from the subject when I spotted the pile of blue feathers and mangled remains of Blu; I sighed and walked over to the pile, biting my bottom lip.

“I can’t believe Blu’s gone.” I grumbled.

“What are we going to tell Fluttershy?” Rainbow Dash asked.

Turning to the pegasus, I contorted my face with frustration, thinking on the matter carefully. We both knew Fluttershy would be extremely upset with the truth, but she wasn’t an idiot, she wouldn’t believe us if we told her Blu had simply flown off with a change of heart.

“We tell her the truth.” I decided.

She nodded with agreement.

“You know she isn’t going to handle it well though, right?”

“I know, but we can’t lie to her. We’ll tell her Blu died with valour, he died saving my life.”

“Alright, do you want me to tell her?” She offered.

“If you don’t mind, thanks.”

We looked around at the scene before us, and decided it was time to get out of here, the dead bodies around us was a distasteful sight. I quickly got to digging a hole to bury Blu, while Dashie searched the tents for any useful loot. After taking Blu’s beak as a memento, I placed his remains into the pit and filled it in. It wasn’t exactly six feet deep, but it would suffice for a parrot’s grave. I planted a large shard of crystal from the monolith in the centre of the grave as some form of tombstone, and then patted the dirt twice as a form of respect and farewell.

“So long, you magnificent bastard.” I sighed.

I turned away and headed towards Dash, who had just finished looking around the tents.

“Any good loot?”

“Oh yeah, you’re going to love what I’ve found…” She chuckled.

I raised an eyebrow, waiting for her to show me the goods. She darted into the first tent, and came out with a bag, inside was a laptop with a WiFi hotspot. If I could crack into it, I’d be able to access the internet and possibly contact my brother. I dug a little deeper, and found eight sticks of dynamite.

“Ooh, now that’s tasty.” I hissed deviously.

“And that’s not even the best part.” Dash teased.

Tilting my head, I allowed her to lead me into the second tent, where I was met with numerous crates, and a few large barrels. From the smell, I could tell instantly what the barrels contained, Dashie gave me an enormous grin and opened up one of the creates, which contained numerous bottles of other beverages, such as Kraken Rum, Baileys Irish Cream, Disaronno liqueur, and Southern Comfort whiskey.

“Trust the Yanks to stockpile tons of alcohol during a mining expedition.” I scoffed.

“Yanks?” Rainbow Dash repeated.

“Americans.”

She hummed with understanding, and I came to inspect all the bottles, there was at least two-thousand units of alcohol here, and that was being generous.

“Well, I suppose we could take a few bottles back with us, but there’s no way we could get all of this back to the mansion.” I hummed.

“Perhaps I could be of assistance?” A voice spoke.

We both whipped around to find none-other than Hawnu Rey’eng stood in the opening of the tent, Rainbow Dash instantly flared her wings and arched her back defensively.

“The fuck are you doing here?” I grunted.

“Buying you time.” He replied.

Rainbow Dash faced me with her mouth agape.

“You know him!?” She blurted out.

“We’re rather well acquainted. Fear not Rainbow Dash, I’m an ally.” He answered.

Dashie recoiled with shock and blinked rapidly.

“How do you know my-”

“You said that you didn’t want the ponies to know you were here, besides Twilight. What’re you doing here Hawnu Rey’eng? What’s changed?” I growled, completely interrupting Dash.

“Buying you time.” He repeated.

I stormed up to the guardian and planted a finger against his metal breastplate.

“Hey, I’ve just met with Princess Celestia in a vision, and all she did was talk in riddles; I’d assume someone who’s been alive for thousands of years would get to the fucking point! So don’t you dare start on me with this mystery bullshit, what’s going on?” I growled.

He exhaled loudly through his nose with amusement, before finally corresponding with me and explaining what had brought him here.

“There’s been a change of plan, Nah’Lek has altered his hunting strategy and was on the verge of locating you. I’ve been in Chernobyl, casting enough spells for him to detect, whilst erasing the zombie infestation, to prevent any worldwide panic. When Nah’Lek gets there, I’ll create another diversion in Brazil. By the time he figures out he needs to get to Portugal, you’ll be long gone.”

I hummed with interest and briefly glanced at Rainbow Dash, who tilted her head.

“How close was Nah’Lek to finding us?” She asked.

“Your exact location? I’d say a week, but if I hadn’t created the decoy, he’d have known you’re all in Portugal in a couple of days, give or take.”

Blimey, I hadn’t realised he was that close on our tail, I suppose my fight with Twilight had caused enough magical energy for him to catch a whiff. Hawnu Rey’eng’s enigmatic presence may have bothered me, but I was certainly glad he was on our side.

“So, you say you cleared out the zombies to prevent a panic, but you’re clearly above the political and petty events of the human race. Why bother to intervene?” I asked.

“You are mistaken, I care very much about the important occurrences of Earth. If humans learned about Chernobyl and that radioactivity could truly create such abominations, it would be used for warfare. When the next war begins, people would attempt to create radioactive monstrosities as living weapons. Humanity is already an absurdly large danger to itself, and I’ll be damned if I don’t prevent further destruction wherever I can. My purpose is to guard the balance of life, which includes the wellbeing of my homeworld, not just your quest.”

I hummed, it seemed Hawnu Rey’eng wasn’t lying about being formerly human. I wondered where he was born, or who he used to be before becoming this mystical being; did he go to school and live an ordinary life before somehow ascending to this status as guardian? Or did he grow up in some horrible slum and suffered mistreatment all his life, only to end up being chosen due to his potential, like all the cliché stories? The only thing I could gather was that he was British, I could just make out the accent through the filter in his helmet. How’d he even become this guardian? I’d certainly love to have a set of wings, magic, and a badass metal suit.

“I digress, I have come to bring you both back to the mansion, if my diversion is to remain effective, we must remove the manifestation of Nah’Lek from your brain. You may be resilient, but anyone can be broken under the right circumstances.” He continued.

Nodding, I turned to Dashie, who seemed to have calmed down and was ready to cooperate happily. Hawnu Rey’eng then raised his head and peered behind us into the tent.

“I’ll also assist in transporting your… Supplies…” He muttered.

Rainbow Dash grinned widely, before licking her lips.

“I didn’t take you for a good Samaritan.” I chuckled.

At this, Hawnu Rey’eng chuckled back, before shrugging his shoulders.

“Your mission is difficult, the whole wellbeing of Equus is at stake; it’s not hard to imagine how stressed the seven of you are on a constant basis. With my decoy to keep Nah’Lek occupied, you should take some time to wind down, let yourselves go.”

I couldn’t really argue with that, nor did I want to. After putting the bag Dash had found over my shoulder, I let the guardian know we were ready, and he began to charge up his magic. His hands began to glow purple, and then grew brighter and brighter, before planting a hand into the dirt; he stood up and raised his other hand in a large arc, his fingers positioned strangely, almost as if he was drawing a painting in mid-air. As it turned out, he was doing just that, as a large doorway of energy formed before us, when the light faded slightly, the doorway revealed itself to be a swirling portal.

“Step inside, I’ll make sure the goods come through after you.” Hawnu Rey’eng commanded.

Rainbow Dash went first, cockily jumping directly at the centre and was sucked inside, she phased out of reality as the portal consumed her; it was quite a sight to behold. While I trusted Hawnu Rey’eng, I was rather apprehensive to enter, my past experiences of instant teleportation weren’t that enjoyable, and I was hardly looking forward to a new method of magical transportation. But I assumed it couldn’t be worse than being tortured by a lunatic in Brazil, so I took a deep breath and walked forward.

“Don’t hold your breath, or your lungs will collapse.”

I turned to face the guardian, my eyes now as wide as possible.

“What!?”

“Good luck.”

Without warning, I was pushed backwards into the portal and felt my entire physical being changing, almost as if every atom in my body was pulled apart and then put back together again.

{ W H A T T H E H E L L I S H A P P E N I N G ! ? } I tried to shout, but it only emerged as thought.

While slowly feeling myself being reassembled, I became enveloped in the weirdest sensation, as if I could literally feel time and space shifting around me, it was like I could feel my own soul as a state of pure mana, swirling about as my physical body was built around it again, it was the most surreal and confusing experience to date, and that includes the time I was in Twilight’s body during my moments in the Frozen Forest.



This experience felt like it had been going on for hours without end, before it was suddenly all over in no time at all, I found myself falling backwards and landing onto hard wooden floor. I let out an ‘oof’ upon contact, completely unprepared for the impact. The first thing I felt was my stomach twisting, and hot bile in my throat, all while being dizzy out of my wits; it felt like waking up with the worst possible hangover.

“Callum!”

I opened my eyes to find a large pair of eyes, belonging to a butter coloured face. Blinking twice, my blurred vision and confused brain came back into focus, the sickly feeling slowly faded away and I broke into a wide smile.

“Hey Flutters.” I sighed.

She wrapped her hooves around me and the dizziness returned, causing me to grumble.

“Mmn, I hate portals…”

“They take some getting used to.” She giggled.

I sat up properly, and looked around; we were in the entrance hall to the mansion, everyone stood around with curious looks upon their faces. I gave Fluttershy a proper hug, before standing up and looking at the others, it was so good to see their faces, even though I’d only been gone for a couple of days. Without warning I felt something hard smack into my back and caused me to fall forward, instinctively I swung my leg around Fluttershy so I didn’t fall onto her, and somehow managed to stay on my feet. I face the portal to see one of the barrels, Hawnu Rey’eng could have bloody well warned me.

“What’s that?” Applejack asked.

I opened my mouth to answer her, but Rainbow Dash latched onto the barrel and gave the answer before I could, she giggled loudly, before licking her lips.

“BEER!”

The ponies’ responses were both interesting and funny. AJ grinned widely, Rarity raised an eyebrow, Pinkie remained expressionless, Twilight tilted her head, and Fluttershy gave the dullest expression physically possible, clearly unimpressed.

“I will not be clearing up anyone’s mess.” She said dryly.

I couldn’t help but laugh aloud, for someone who was always shy and timid, Fluttershy had this really sassy tone under the skin which I really liked. I gave her a playful nudge and winked.

“Relax, we won’t go too wild. Besides, I’m British, I assure you I can hold my drink.” I chuckled.

“You say that now, but I bet you’ll be like this in a few hours.” Dashie giggled.

I turned to face her as she stood on her hind legs and tried to impersonate me, stumbling around, and pretending to be absolutely shitfaced. She wailed dramatically and swung herself side to side and tried to put on a slurred English accent.

“L-Look at meeee! I’m a hooman! I walk on two legs and act all fancy because I’m BRITISH! Nobody’s better than me because I’m BRRIIITTTIIISSHHH! I eat special British food and like pretty little flowers!”

She then collapsed onto the floor, causing everyone to burst into laughter, me included. The rest of the barrels and boxes of liquors came through the portal, before Hawnu Rey’eng emerged. The laughter died instantly and Fluttershy let out a squeak of fear and jumped a few feet back, everyone’s ears flattened down and their pupils shrunk with terror, all but Dashie and Twilight. I approached him to assure the ponies he wasn’t a threat, and helped move a barrel aside for him.

“Hawnu Rey’eng! What are you doing here?” Twiley exclaimed.

Other than Dashie, the girls all looked at Twilight with disbelief, the same way Rainbow had looked at me when I first spoke to the guardian. They all jumped when he gave his reply.

“Buying you time.”

Without hesitation, I whacked the side of his helmet. His head jolted slightly, before it mechanically turned to face me, the glowing purple visor darkening slightly.

“That’s the third time you’ve said that!” I growled.

In a flash, his wings extended out with aggression and I flinched, raising my fists in defence. He chuckled slightly, before folding them again.

“It’s the third time I’ve told the truth.”

He faced Twilight, and gave her a proper answer.

“I’ve created a diversion for Nah’Lek, he thinks you’re in Chernobyl now, and is heading there. You’ve got plenty of time now to relax and prepare to locate the fourth shard.”

Everyone’s eyes widened once again at the sound of Nah’Lek’s name, but they were all quick to relax upon knowing we were safe for a much longer period of time. The guardian flicked his hand out and the portal closed, he levitated the barrels and boxes to one side of the room. He then approached the girls who were still staring at him in shock, still unsure of who, or what he was.

“You needn’t fear me, I’m an ally, and have been protecting you from a distance for quite some time. Previously I had intended for my identity to remain hidden from you, besides Callum and Twilight, but due to Nah’Lek changing his strategy, I’ve had to come forward and intervene personally. My name is Hawnu Rey’eng, which roughly translates to t-”

“The Guardian of the Balance of Life, blah blah blah…” I interrupted him.

He turned to face me, his visor once again darkening.

“Why do you insist on being disrespectful and bothersome?” He grumbled.

“Because people that talk in riddles get on my nerves, it just makes you a pretentious dick, and causes me to lose all admiration for you. If you got to the bloody point about things, and actually explained some shit without needing to be asked twice every time, I’d actually respect you.” I ranted.

I heard the guardian exhale out of his nose, and he shrugged.

“You’ll know the answers to everything in appropriate time, there are some things I can’t tell you right now. You will understand when the time is right, you have my word.” He said, dipping his head.

“Whatever.” I mumbled.

Shaking his head slightly, the guardian rolled his shoulders and took in a big breath.

“Formalities aside, we have a task that needs immediate attention.”

Twilight gulped, she knew exactly what he was going to announce. We were going to use the collars and venture into my brain, to face Nah’Lek’s shadow and kill it. After what she’d been through in the Frozen Forest, I knew she was already struggling with the idea.

“What is it?” Rarity asked.

“Nah’Lek has attempted to poison Callum’s mind, similar to Twilight’s. Thankfully his depression has rendered this attempt ineffective, as he has an immunity to the Fel in small doses. However, Nah’Lek has created an image of himself that dwelled inside Twilight’s head. When Callum cured her of the Fel, this shade was able to move into Callum’s head and has been trying to break him since. Using the same process used to cure Twilight, we are going to remove this contagion.” Hawnu Rey’eng explained.

“This what?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Contagion, it means infection.” I replied.

“Why didn’t he just say th-”

“Because he’s a pretentious dickhead who likes to be all enigmatic.” I moaned.

“What’s enigmatic?”

I facepalmed, and breathed in through my teeth bitterly.

“It means to be mysterious and secretive.”

“Why didn’t you just say tha-”

“Rainbow Dash, I will punch you in the face.” I grumbled.

Hawnu Rey’eng chuckled, before turning to Twilight.

“Would you fetch the collars from upstairs? I’d like to get started immediately.”

The unicorn obeyed without question, and trotted off, while Applejack zipped into the kitchen, I assumed something was cooking, as there was a wonderful smell wafting around the room. Hawnu Rey’eng suggested we all moved to the living room, and so we headed there and I settled on the sofa. When Twilight came down with the collars, I noticed she held the box in her mouth, it seemed she was still unable to use magic. She sat down beside me and dropped the container into my lap, Hawnu Rey’eng nodded and I proceeded to put mine on, and then picked up Twilight’s collar.

“Wait, I’m going with you?” She asked, alarmed.

I opened my mouth, but before I could speak she had leapt off the sofa and started backing away.

“I can’t, I can’t see him again…”

“Twilight, we’re-”

NO! Please, I can’t! You don’t know… You don’t know what he did to me!” She yelped.

Swallowing, I stared at Twilight and saw the sheer terror in her eyes; Nah’Lek really did torture her to his fullest, I could see the trauma in her face. I cast my mind back to the other night, in the tent with Rainbow Dash. I briefly heard Nah’Lek talking about Twilight, but I couldn’t quite make it out properly. I clamped my eyes shut and concentrated hard, and then it all came back to me.

“Oh god…” I murmured to myself quietly.

Everything he said resurfaced, everything…
My mind conjured up his sickly monologue and I heard his chilling voice.

{Twilight was fun, very fun…
Killing her wasn’t all I did to her, there’s only so much torment you can accomplish from killing someone over and over again. When I started flaying her, now that’s when she began to break…
Peeling away her skin until there was nothing left but flesh. How her screams rang out in the Frozen Forest, not even the snow could absorb the echoes of her agony.
And then, what else did I do to her? I’m sure you’re imaginative enough to figure it out.
Let’s just say there wasn’t an inch of her body that I didn’t defile…}

Fucking hell, Nah’Lek had flayed her alive…
Initially, I wanted to rush towards Twilight and give her a hug, and tell her that she didn’t have to do this, but all I could do was sit there on the couch and stare at her.

“Twilight, if you don’t help us, Nah’Lek will remain in Callum’s brain and he’ll experience the same fate, we need to deal with this as a group. He is much stronger in the dreamworld, not even I cannot guarantee that I’d win a fight with him alone.” Hawnu Rey’eng spoke.

Twilight froze solid, and her eyes flittered back and forth from me to the guardian, before she eventually made her way back to the sofa, and sat back down beside me, taking a deep breath. I put an arm around her and put my mouth to her ear and whispered softly.

“I won’t let him touch you, he’ll have to get through me first.”

I felt her body relax, and she allowed me to put the collar around her neck; I tightened the buckle so it didn’t slide around, but remained comfortable.

“Before we get started, could the both of you drink some water? It will make the process much easier if you’re both hydrated.” Hawnu Rey’eng instructed.

“I’ll get some!” Rarity sang, darting into the kitchen.

I placed a hand on Twilight’s shoulder and stroked her slightly until Rarity returned with two pint glasses of water, I drank half of mine before assisting Twilight. I noticed her eyelids drooping into a dull expression, clearly frustrated that she required help now that she couldn’t use magic. We both finished drinking, and then Hawnu Rey’eng knelt before us.

“This will take a while, I’ve found with this spell that the human brain is layered out differently from a pony’s, meaning Nah’Lek could be very difficult to find as I’m unfamiliar with the terrain. I suggest everyone continue about your day and we’ll alert you when it’s over.” He explained.

The girls began to disperse except for Rainbow Dash, who wanted to stay and watch. The guardian placed a hand on my thigh, and his other on hers.

“Your depression might be able to shield you from the Fel, but you know too well that your brain also attacks itself from time to time when you enter depressive states. It may possibly do this while we’re in there, so be prepared to face your own demons, not just Nah’Lek.” He warned.

Nodding, I leaned back and closed my eyes, giving Twilight’s shoulder a quick squeeze before settling back and getting comfortable. Hawnu Rey’eng’s hand began to warm up against my leg and I breathed out slowly, everything faded away as the collars activated and the three of us entered my mind…




I opened my eyes to find myself in the same room, but Twilight wasn’t beside me, nor was Hawnu Rey’eng knelt before me. Looking around, I found all the wood was warped and damp; the sofa was covered in mould and hundreds of fingernails for some reason. Standing up and wiping them off my legs, I took in a deep breath through my nose, and instantly wished I hadn’t.

“What died in here?” I muttered.

Upon trying to leave, I opened the door to the hallway and instantly jumped back in shock, before gagging loudly. Dozens of dead bodies poured out of the doorway, most of them had begun to rot and the smell was utterly abhorrent. Using my wrist to cover my nose, I observed the bodies and tried not to throw up. It was then that I spotted a familiar face, it was Rahim, the boy I’d killed in the Blood Family to pass my initiation, his throat was still gashed open, his eyes fixed on mine. All the dead eyes were staring at me, that was when I started to recognise more faces; they belonged to everybody I’d killed. The uniforms of Paulo’s militia stood out, alongside the red and black clothing of Ingeo’s men; and then I saw him, Ingeo Montenegro, the skull tattooed on his chest was emitting tiny wisps of dark smoke.

“Man, you’re a face I didn’t need to see today.” I murmured.

The eyes blinked, and his corpse began to twitch. Stepping back, I noticed all the bodies were twitching, it looked like I was going to have to kill everyone a second time over. I looked around for something to defend myself with, and spotted a metal poker by the enormous fireplace, it was nearly the length of my arm, and had a big jagged pommel at the end, perfect for splitting skulls.

“I killed all of you once, I’ll kill you again!” I growled.

Gripping the weapon tightly, I prepared myself for the number of corpses that first arose, four of Paulo’s men and three people from the Blood Family, their flesh burnt black after I’d set the courthouse ablaze. Should these bodies still feel emotion, I imagined none of them were happy to see me. It was Paulo’s men who attacked first, they said nothing as they rushed towards me with their hands outstretched, ready to grab me. I slammed the pommel into the closest one’s head, it landed just above his eyes and cracked open his forehead, the second foe grew too close for me to ready the poker in time and so I kicked him in the chest, and then swung the weapon at the third, hitting the side of his head and killing him. That’s when the burnt men came charging in, forcing me to become more mobile around the room.

With each person I killed, another two came back to life from the pile. Thankfully they weren’t all that difficult to kill, but I sensed this fight would get harder as their numbers grew, and my stamina slowly drained. I remained vigilant, if I had any chance in fighting Nah’Lek, I would surely have to handle a small army of undead without much hassle.



By the end of the fight, I was clambering over bodies to get around, panting heavily and covered in dark blood. Only a few bodies remained, which included Ingeo. I approached my old foe and smirked, still wrinkling my nose at the smell of rotting flesh.

“Thanks for the scar, it’s kind of grown on me.” I uttered.

Driving the sharp point of the fire poker into his head and killing him, I turned to face the remaining enemies, two of Paulo’s men and a burnt woman from the Blood Family. The men attacked first, I removed the poker from Ingeo’s head and smacked the first one so hard that his jaw came off, before driving the end upwards through the jaw of the second, spiking his brain. Leaving the weapon inside his head and facing the burnt woman, my fists clenched.

“Don’t think I’m afraid to hit a woman, equality works both ways.” I taunted.

She screeched and leapt at me, as she did so, I slammed my fist into her face. She shot back and landed in a pile of other bodies, I punched her so hard that I’d nearly broken my damn hand, the was no way she was getting up from that.

Well, look at you.” A demonic voice spoke.

My eyes widened and I spun around, trying to pinpoint the voice.

Do you feel better for killing all these people? Are you proud of yourself?

Shaking my head in attempt to ignore the voice, I tried to leave the room, only for the door to slam shut and lock itself, as though the mansion was alive.

Look at all these bodies, you’ve killed each and every one of them in the real world, each body here is a life you’ve stolen, a soul snatched away.

I yanked at the door handle, to which it snapped off. Listening hard, I found the distorted voice sounded identical to my own, was this my conscience speaking to me?

So many lives taken that weren’t necessary to take, you side-tracked from your purpose for your own selfish gain, and did nothing but end lives and fuck a pretty girl. You’re sick.

That one got to me, I squinted my eyes and shook my head.

“They were bad people, I tried to save her.” I retorted.

Had you continued your quest and left her be, she’d still be alive. Hoyt would have scolded Paulo and put him back in place, and Bunnie would be safe. But you thought you could be a hero and save the day, so you killed the Blood Family and sealed her fate.

“Shut up!” I growled.

And what of Rahim? Hoyt’s mole? A kid no older than yourself, trying to keep his head low and stay alive, surrounded by drug lords and pirates, and you gashed his throat open and drank his blood, all for a sick initiation in order to rescue your little whore.

“Fuck you!” I shouted.

The voice grew silent, I knew it was my depression talking, but acknowledging that didn’t make this any easier for me to bare. My lips were quivering uncontrollably; the sense of guilt washing over me was too much; I was responsible for all this death. With tears in my eyes, I looked around at all the damp wood, the mouldy couch, and the piles of rotting corpses all around. If I weren’t here to eradicate Nah’Lek from my brain, I’d most likely have given up and killed myself in this stupid dreamworld. My brain had done this, my sick, depressed old brain; why was it so focused on making everything so grim? I hated it, I loathed myself for it, it took so much effort to appreciate the world around me, and even then, my brain would try to fill it with some amount of darkness.

Back before I met the six, I’d have intrusive depressive thoughts with every moment I had the misfortune to breathe in. Every car journey was spent fantasising about being in an accident, and watching the carnage unfold around me, hoping plenty of people would be killed, myself included.
Every lesson at school was squandered with the hopes that one of the kids would freak out and shoot everyone, or that the school would somehow burst into flames and leave everyone ablaze.

I didn’t exactly enjoy these thoughts, but my mind couldn’t help itself from conjuring up these horrid scenarios and causing me to wish them true, anything to add some action to my dull, depressing life.
Why the hell did Celestia choose me again? I didn’t dare have the arrogance nor ego to claim I was the only brony to make the ‘right choice’, there must have been plenty like me. I still didn’t feel worthy enough to be the hero in this story, I wasn’t even a hero, I’d killed people without mercy and had temporarily abandoned my duty to pursue my heart; some good that did me.

“Get up, Callum.”

I looked up to see Hawnu Rey’eng, his visor splattered with black blood; he’d clearly been in battle with another of my brain’s apparitions. Hesitating at first, I gathered the strength to stand up and approach the guardian face-to-face.

“I killed her, it was my fault.” I said hoarsely.

His visor became more saturated in colour and the edges grew darker, as if to show emotion; it was like his suit was synced to his body and he could vaguely express himself via the colour of his visor.

“I watched it happen, and you weren’t to blame. Bunnie could have been saved, but the Fel made Twilight intentionally allow her demise, the Fel is in Nah’Lek’s control. The Defiler is behind the death of your lover, so stop blaming yourself, bear arms, and avenge her.” He ordered.

I took one last look at the carnage around me, before nodding miserably and retrieving the fire poker. Hawnu Rey’eng teleported us outside, where the Dead Forest looked more diseased than ever. The grass was white as snow, the trees as dark as the shadows they cast, which all moaned painfully as the creepers gripped them tightly.

“Where’s Twilight?” I asked.

“Safe, for now, but she’s being hunted.”

“By Nah’Lek?”

Hawnu Rey’eng shook his head, before explaining.

“Before you knew of the Fel’s influence, you loathed Twilight for everything she’d committed towards you and the rest of the group, let alone how you felt after she left Bunnie to die. You might have forgiven her, but your brain still contains memories of this evil Fel-Twilight. In this dreamworld, this version of Twilight has merged with your old fear and hatred for her, turning her into a nightmarish creature, it’s currently searching for Twilight, I must leave you to assist her.”

After taking in that information, I shook my head in disbelief.

“You’re leaving me alone?”

“I never said that.”

I heard a twig snap behind me, and turned around and my jaw dropped at the sight before me, I instantly dropped the fire poker and gulped nervously.

“Oh Bunnie...” I breathed.

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